A 23-year-old Idaho man was sentenced to 28 years in prison on Wednesday after kicked a man to death with steel-tied boots because he was gay.
On Jan. 10, 2017 before a federal grand jury, Kelly Schneider pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, otherwise known as the Shepard-Byrd Act. After he serves 28 years in prison, he will serve an additional five years of supervision.
According to the plea agreement, Nelson met Schneider on backpage.com when he responded to a post soliciting sex. The two met for the first time on April 28, 2016, but did not have sex. Before of the encounter, Schneider his post — whose backpage profile included a shirtless photo — told his friends that he was not gay, and would not let a gay man touch him.
Schneider resumed communication with Nelson that later night, and the two met up again — this time with Schneider intended to robbing Nelson.
The initial plan was to take Nelson to Gott’s Point, a wildlife reserve located in an isolated area, have sex with him, and then rob him. However, the plea agreement states that Schneider immediately began attacking Nelson once they arrived at Gott’s Point.
“While shod in steel-toed boots, the defendant kicked [Nelson] 20 to 30 times, repeatedly saying, ‘Did you think I would fucking do this, you fag?’” the document reads.
The agreement notes that Nelson did not resist throughout the attack and plead many times for Schneider not to kill him.
“In fact, S.N. volunteered his ATM number several times, and said, ‘Please don’t kill me. Take whatever you want,’” the document reads.
After the beating, Schneider took Nelson’s clothes off and drove off in the victim’s car. Nelson died of his injuries in the early hours of April 29.
“Steven Nelson was assaulted and later died because he was gay,” said Acting US Attorney Gonzalez in a statement released by the Department of Justice.
“This is precisely the kind of bias motivated violence that the Shepard-Byrd Act was passed to address. The federal prosecution in this case makes clear that this office, the Civil Rights Division, and its law enforcement partners will pursue justice when a person is violently attacked based on who he loves and how he loves.”
The DOJ used the Shepard-Byrd Act to bring criminal charges against someone for targeting a victim based on their gender identity for the first time on Dec. 14, 2016, when Joshua Vallum beat Mercedes Williamson with a hammer, shocked her with a stun gun, and stabbed her multiple times.
Read the plea agreement for Schneider here.